Upping Your Tuna Salad Game + Easy Recipes using Canned Tuna!

Upping Your Tuna Salad Game + Easy Recipes using Canned Tuna!

Change up your salad with new additions. Maybe not all of them at once!

Like many of you, I have probably for most of my life made tuna salad pretty much like my mother did. A can of tuna, a few spoons of mayo, one chopped hard cooked egg, a little onion, pickle and celery and — Fanny’s your aunt — hot weather lunch was served with little or no stove time. Over the years, though, as my cooking developed, so did my tuna salad. One year I was shocked to see that a happy little bit of lemon zest had slipped into the mixing bowl by “mistake.” Whoa! Another time a dab of perky horseradish became a sudden, but happy addition. Soon, though not always, cucumbers/fennel/carrots/bell peppers joined the party along with a good healthy spoonful of Dijon-style mustard, cornichons leftover from a wine and cheese event I catered, and —wait for it — a big splash of red wine vinegar. The biggest change was the consistent use of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, along with the occasional herbs, no matter what else I dumped in. Why didn’t I ever season my tuna salad before? (Mom, you didn’t tell me.) Of course I often ate it on toast, but sometimes I went with the old school ladies’ lunch counter lower-carb style: spooned into the middle of a quartered tomato, hopefully ripe. Other weeks, I thinned it out and ate it scooped up with potato chips or Triscuits (HELLO, TUNA DIP!!) — Triscuits being one of my most unknown addictions. (The rye were the best, but they discontinued them–sob, sob. Now I’m even more stuck on the organic thin variety. Try them and see. Nope, I’m not on Nabisco’s payroll.) After a while, my tuna salad was never the same twice in a row. Who knew what would happen next to my trusty, inexpensive summer fun food? And, by the way, how did we come to eat so much tuna fish?? 

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Salmon with Red Pepper Sauce on Salad

Salmon with Red Pepper Sauce on Salad

If you’re a longtime More Time reader, you’ll have seen more than your share of caprese salads on the blog. While I’m not as addicted as it might appear, I’ll admit I make several during the warm months and…they are definitely photogenic. I mean. Red. Green. White. The colors are made to go together and not just in the garden or at the table. For instance, how many countries boast flags in those colors? Ok, I checked. Here they are (scroll down a while!). You have to admit, though, that this is actually a salmon salad; it just happens to be nestled into asparagus, greens, and yes, ok … caprese around the edges.

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Grilled Parmesan-Garlic Zucchini

Grilled Parmesan-Garlic Zucchini

About this time of year — right after the 4th of July, in fact — the typical grill faves at our house seem to fade off into the proverbial sunset. They’re not nearly so exciting as they were when we dusted off the patio in May and had the first cheeseburger with grilled sweet potato wedges and Sriracha Mayo dip. Or even when the early sweet corn got overly buttered and salted just a week or two ago and I thanked God my dentist had only two weeks before — and for the third time (sheesh) — fixed the snaggletooth chip in my right front tooth. (Just you wait for the Olathe corn coming up next month! I’m ready.) The sides, particularly, feel a bit lackluster. Another ho-hum pasta salad or middle-of-the-road caprese? More lemony green beans?! “What’s for dinner?” begins again, especially as the sun seems to just hang there up in the sky something like forever and it’s hot as ________. Are we bored that easily? It seems we may be. A bit of an embarrassment, isn’t it?

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Corn and Poblano Risotto

Corn and Poblano Risotto

It’s a wild guess, but having spent a little bit of time in Italy over the years, I don’t think you’d find Corn and Poblano Risotto on any menu there. A red or yellow pepper (peperone) risotto or rice with peas (Risi e Bisi), of course, but probably not corn or mild poblanos. Corn is reserved mostly for polenta and, loving polenta the way I do, I get that. Many peppers are cultivated in Italy (see photo below), but I don’t think poblanos are among them. Rightly or wrongly, we Americans have sort of taken risotto under our proverbial cooking wings and made it our own using favorite local ingredients. In this case, I had arborio rice; I had corn and poblanos. A meal needed to be made for good friends whose dinner with us had been delayed throughout Covid-Tide and here’s what transpired — a least a part of it. Perdonami (sorry), but I’m sincerely hoping any Nonna might forgive me for doing just as she does — using what’s available for dinner. On second thought, perhaps this is just a twist on our rice sopa seca (Mexican-style rice–literally “dry soup”), which traveled north to us along with many other wondrous meals. I like that idea but however it came to be, I’m overly glad it did.

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Fourth of July Desserts: My Berry Best

Fourth of July Desserts: My Berry Best

Homemade Frozen Yogurt with Strawberries and Blueberries

It came without warning. All of a sudden it was the end of June. It was nearly the 4th of July. Dave and I were both off by about a week and had no idea why. This man’s birthday is July 3 and yesterday he said to me, when I asked about a birthday dinner reservation, “What? Is my birthday this weekend??” Why, yes it is!

In the meantime, I’d been working on a risotto post for the blog. Having a fun old time making the risotto, finding the dishes, taking the photos, writing the text and recipe and so on. Except I had nothing for the immediate holiday. Necessity is the mother of disaster sometimes, but hopefully not here. (Watch this space for the risotto love coming up next week or maybe even the week after.)

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Salami Chopped Salad

Salami Chopped Salad

“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe and Aloysius in a good temper…” 

―Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

What’s life without bacon? A dog and a beer at the ball park? Brats on the 4th of July? Just a ham sandwich for supper, for goodness’ sake? Luckily I have this guy in my life who smokes meat like he was born to it, so we can skip A Lot from the store and leave the nitrates right where they sit. But once in a while…you have to let up. Go for the gold. Grab the salami, as it were. Scratch that. Insert eye roll. And so we, every once in a while, splurge on something like salami and cheese with crackers and a cold beer or a “Chopped Salami Salad” along with a glass of rosé. No stove. No grill. Thank you very much. In the summer, I’m fond of what I label, “Shop and Chop” meals. It’s a hot day. You go to the store, buy what looks good, come home and — with no or nearly no cooking — make big with your chef’s knife and create “dinner” out of whole cloth. This is one of them.

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Chilled Carrot-Ginger Bisque

Chilled Carrot-Ginger Bisque

Yes, you can eat chive flowers. Whole or torn into florets. Promise. Didn’t you eat or suck on sweet clover flowers as a kid?

One day last week I went out to the garage refrigerator for carrots. It’s a common occurrence at our house as I typically buy and store a 5-pound bag of carrots in the produce bin of that fridge. While it sounds like a lot of carrots, they’re cheap in that quantity ($2.99 for 5 pounds–what else is less than 60 cents a pound?) and they last a long time. Even better, I’m never out of them for soup, stew, or just for a vegetable. It’s also not terribly unusual for me to make carrot soup as it’s lovely, healthy, fast, and can be made in several different flavor profiles. I didn’t start out with carrot soup in mind on said day, but I certainly got there pretty fast as my carrots were growing white hair — sprouting, getting ready for planting! I peeled and used the carrot I needed, but knew carrot soup, cake, bread, soufflé, salad, or gratin was in the offing. Because I wasn’t throwing away 8 or 9 carrots no matter how little they cost.

I’m reminded of a simple meme that says volumes. It goes something like, “A single carrot doesn’t seem too awfully important. Unless it took you 3 months to grow it.” And, by the way, if you’re lucky enough to get carrots with all the green frills on top, the green part is edible, too. A little carrot top pesto might be good for the soul. VEGETABLES ARE AMAZING!

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WHAT’S FOR DINNER?  Solved for the Whole Summer!!

WHAT’S FOR DINNER? Solved for the Whole Summer!!

SUMMER WEEKNIGHT MEAL PLANNING IS DONE. MAKE THESE 20 FUN RECIPES 3X EACH. Print them, along with a shopping list, place in a 3-ring binder or save them to a word file so you know just where they are for the next couple of months. Then make them again…and again!

Tired of trying to figure out what’s for dinner on any given night in June, July, or August? The summer struggle is real even if you sometimes take the time to write down the week’s menu and make a grocery list. Cooking at home for yourself, friends, or a family is a big commitment, but it’s also a wonderful thing to do to focus on health and togetherness; improve the use of your time; and rein in that food budget. Here’s a post highlighting 20 fun, MORE TIME AT THE TABLE lighter/easier recipes you can make over and over again — or with variations. I had an awful time choosing between so many yummy dinners and had to leave out things like Shrimp Ratatouille and BBQ Chicken Grilled Veggie Stack — next time, right? You can be sure your planning, shopping, prep, and cooking will become simpler/faster as you become better acquainted with each meal. Just click on RECIPE HERE to take you to the post, then scroll down to the recipe (there is sometimes a “jump to recipe” button) and print. Do throw in a COOK’S OFF! night every now and then so you can order pizza, go out, or let someone else make eggs and toast when you’re tired. If you like, make a big batch soup or extra chicken breasts once a week you can then also use for lunch. After the recipes, I’ve included some seasonal desserts, meal-planning basic information, cooking with kids ideas, and a few great links to get you going. So choose your favorites, make that grocery list (keep it on your phone from month to month?), and then it’s time to get busy with happy summer cooking!

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Tarragon Vinaigrette (French Tarragon Class, Part 3)

Tarragon Vinaigrette (French Tarragon Class, Part 3)

To make the Zucchini-Tomato Salad, layer thinly sliced zucchini+tomatoes in a circle, add flaky salt, fresh ground black pepper and drizzle with my Tarragon Vinaigrette. For best taste, cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.

This is the third recipe from my French Tarragon Cooking Class. If you’re interested in the other two recipes, here they are:


Not far from our house in Colorado Springs are three yummy “French” restaurants whose names each contain the words, “La Baguette.” It may be that when we first moved to the city they were owned by the same person, though I think they no longer are. We have plain old La Baguette, in Old Colorado City, which is not only the cafe but also a top-notch bakery — still for all 3 locations, I think — and is closest to me. Then there’s La Baguette and Espresso Bar downtown on Pike’s Peak, but only a stone’s throw away. Last, but certainly not least, is La Baguette French Bistro a few miles to the north and east on Chestnut, which is all decked out with Parisian memorabilia and is a favorite “girls” lunch spot, though husband Dave and I have been known to hit them up for dinner occasionally. While the très tasty menus are these days varied from place to place, in my memory at least, they all still serve up a fresh-fresh side salad — just greens — that comes with a lovely tarragon vinaigrette. Tarragon vinaigrette is nothing more than a basic vinaigrette with fresh tarragon added.

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Colorado Bean Dip for Memorial Day

Colorado Bean Dip for Memorial Day

In 2020, our ubiquitous all-American cookouts — which roar on ad infinitum Mother’s Day through Labor Day — were often a tad sad little affairs if we had them at all. Instead of the jumbo party packs of burgers and brats, unending veggie or cheese trays, boxes of big cupcakes, and the super-sized bag of red, white, and blue paper napkins to last all summer long, we were buying a single pound of ground beef, 4 buns, a pint of vanilla, and left the colored napkins on the shelf. Fireworks, if available on the 4th, were viewed from apartment building balconies or hillside decks. We were masked and our celebrations felt the same.

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